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Korean Cultural Office Cooking Class + Competition

Were I a betting man, I’d wager that a fair proportion of you have eaten out at a Korean restaurant, or better yet, have had the privilege of a home cooked Korean meal. However, how many of you have actually cooked a Korean dish at home (Shin Ramen doesn’t count)? Have you ever wanted to learn how to?

Thanks to the Korean Cultural Office, I was fortunate enough to attend one of their Korean cooking classes.

Continue on to find out more about the Korean Cultural Office, the Korean cooking class and how you can be in the running to win an opportunity to attend one of these classes free of charge. 

The Korean Cultural Office (KCO), located near Hyde Park in Sydney’s CBD district, is the epicentre of an initiative to educate and promote various aspects of Korean culture to the general public beyond that which most Australians are likely to be familiar with. Namely Korean BBQ, kimchi and Tae Kwon Do.

Established only in April of this year, the KCO is a compilation mix track of Korean culture. There’s a small museum-like display of some traditional Korean instruments, weapons, crafts and artworks; a small library of books & DVDs; not to mention classroom facilities to teach various cultural classes such as Korean language, arts & crafts, K-Pop (??) as well as a kitchen for Korean cooking classes.

A yearly membership to KCO is available for $25. Benefits include free access to Korean language classes, significant discounts to other classes, exclusive invitations to events not available to the public and so on. A complete list of benefits and the sign up form can be found on the membership page. If you’re looking to attend more than one cooking class within a period of a year, the membership more than pays for itself.

Speaking of the cooking class…

Heather Jeong, professional caterer, recipe writer and cooking instructor; local guide for Maeve O’Meara’s Gourmet Safari Eastwood Korean food walks; and all round nice person runs the Korean cooking classes. The kitchen, with its decal of various Korean cooking utensils along a feature wall, is a small intimate space that’s only large enough to cater for, say, 6-8 students at most.

The class operates at a casual, leisurely pace with plenty of attention to each student due to the small class size. Heather does a great job not only as a cooking instructor but also as an advocate for Korean food, introducing the various ingredients, condiments & tools that are commonly used in Korean cookery.

Each recipe, of which there are usually two to three per class, are walked through step by step from the preparation of its mise en place to its final cooking stage. The recipes are simple and straight forward, requiring little in the way of prior cooking experience or skill.

For the class that I’d attended, there were two recipes that we’d learned.

The first was the beloved Daeji Bulgogi, more commonly known as Korean BBQ Chilli Pork. This has to be one of my favourite Korean BBQ dishes, second only to galbi aka Korean BBQ beef ribs (and a very close second at that).

Heather’s version of chilli pork was a fairly standard version of the dish. It’s hard to go wrong when pork belly is involved :)

The other recipe of the day was Haemul Pajeon, which translates to Seafood Spring Onion Pancake. The seafood pancake is made up of various seafood such as prawns, calamari, scallops and some other shellfish which had slipped my mind, though it can be made up of whatever seafood that you have lying around.

The seafood pancake is served with a soy-based sauce that incorporates a sprinkle of Korean chili powder gochu garu. It’s somewhat like hot paprika in that it’s fairly pungent but not all that spicy.

The end product was better than most restaurant versions I’ve had. A little tempura flour added to the mix gives the savoury pancake a nice crispy base.

There’s more to the lesson than just the two or three recipes scheduled to be taught during the class. A small meal is served towards the end of the class, introducing the kaleidoscopic cornucopia of Korean side dishes collectively referred to as banchan; the cornerstone of almost every Korean meal.

Along with various traditional banchan, including a variety of kimchi, sauted kimchi fried in butter was also offered. To be frank, I was initially offended by the idea of such a bastardisation of a traditional dish that usurps Korean sesame oil for a knob of butter. However, it actually ended up tasting pretty good. Much the same taste as the sesame oil version but without the toasty, sesame notes.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time during the class. Whilst I was fairly familiar with the preparation of these dishes, there were still some little things that I’d learned to help improve my Korean dishes.

Ok, time to announce the competition, which has nothing to do with this somewhat spooky display with accompanying eerie ambiance audio and video projection of leaves falling, or something like that as I didn’t hang around too long after taking this photo to find out. *brrr*

The Korean Cultural Office have kindly offered the chance for three lucky readers of the heart of food to attend one of their Korean cooking classes free of charge during their August/September program (normally valued at up to $70 per class).

In order to submit your entry into the competition, you will need to meet the following conditions of entry:

  1. Browse the KCO Cooking Class site (Aug/Sep) and pick a recipe that you would like to learn.
  2. Comment in this blog post with the dish you would like to learn and why.
  3. Send an email to kcocookingcomp@theheartoffood.com and include:
    1. Your name
    2. Copy & paste your comment from the blog post.

Judges from KCO, including cooking instructor Heather Jeong, will select three winners based on original, interesting and/or humorous comments. Only valid entries that meet the above criteria will be considered for judging.

The competition closes at 5pm, Friday 22nd July. Winners will be announced on the blog in the following week and will also be contacted directly by KCO via email. When making your submission, please use a valid email address as this address will be used to notify the winning entrants.

The competition is open to residents of Sydney only, or to anyone that is able to attend one of the available sessions during the August/September class schedule. Judges decisions are final and no discussions will be entered into.

Follow KCO on Twitter and/or click on the Like button on their Facebook page to be in the loop of upcoming events, cultural activities and so forth.

Good luck with your entry into the comp. While you’re at it, if you haven’t already done so, show a little love by following the heart of food on Twitter or on the Facebook.

the heart of food attended the Korean cooking class courtesy of the Korean Cultural Office.

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{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Carmit July 8, 2011, 10:55 am

    I am looking forword to try the ultimate Korean comfort food

    Daeng jang jiigae (Korean miso hotpot)

  • mademoiselle délicieuse July 8, 2011, 11:31 am

    Kimchi with butter? I’ve had baby bok choy stir-fried in butter with garlic, all because a waiter misheard what I’d said, and it didn’t turn out too badly either! Admittedly, I’ve never ordered it again though…

  • sugarpuffi July 8, 2011, 1:29 pm

    zomg! bbq chili pork! looks like u had heaps of fun :D

    i would LOVE to learn how to make bossam because i order it every time i go to seoul ria and it just tastes absolutely delicious! i love it most when i wrap it with boiled cabbage and pickled radish on top. my brother is also a major fan and we have to order a large plate because he can single handedly finish the whole thing off.

    now, i dont know how to cook to save my life but i think if i learn how to cook bossam, it will totally wow the family and they will never look at me the same lol!!

  • Cherie July 9, 2011, 8:21 pm

    I’d always want to learn how to make Kim Chi – the food that appears on every single dinner table across Korea.
    I’m a big fan of the Korean food and culture, and admittedly, I’ve watched way many Korean dramas even more than a Korean friend of mine. I can still remember there’s a movie mentioned that Kim Chi gives people a feeling of motherhood, because mum prepares the Kim Chi with her own hands with love, and that is the reason that this dish represents the nation the most.
    As an overseas student for several years in Australia, it always makes me homesick. Therefore, anything that’s related to family or home interests me more than others.
    To sum up, I believe that rather than being fancy, being simple is the best and most powerful, and that’s the reason I chose Kim Chi (╯▽╰)

  • Lil July 10, 2011, 4:46 pm

    I would love to learn how to make Kochujang Jiggae (Korean Chilli Hotpot). My perchant for chilli food is infamous amongst my friends and few match my ability withstand intoxicatingly addictive spice levels. I’d love to be able to make this so that I can have spicy food without the difficulty of finding friends who share my fiery passion! ;]

  • Heather July 10, 2011, 10:35 pm

    What a great resource to have in the city — wish I would have known about it! There’s only one place for Korean in Cville as far as I know, and I’ve already been once since I’ve been home. A local newspaper published a list of all the restaurants in town, so I’ll go have a look to see if I missed one.

    Too bad I can’t enter the competition :-)

  • Erin@TheFoodMentalist July 14, 2011, 2:27 pm

    ” I do not fib when I say it would have to be ribs” I’d love to learn to make the galbi aka ribs they look and sound absolutely delicious!

  • Nic@diningwithastud July 15, 2011, 9:24 am

    Def going to look into these classes! We go to Korean restaurants quite a bit so I’d love to be able to learn from the experts how to make it at home :)

  • MelleeMoo July 18, 2011, 2:11 pm

    I would love to learn to make Bul Dok – Fire Chicken! The name sounds warming on such a cold day as today it would be the perfect meal to warm me up… if only i knew how to prepare it! I have just started experimenting with Gochujang paste on lamb ribs,and so new ways to use Korean ingredients would be great!

  • Ben July 18, 2011, 3:52 pm

    I would like to learn how to make Bul Dak, it sounds very tasty and reminds me of one of my favourite korean dishes.

    I really want to learn how to make *more* korean dishes, I’ve already learnt how to make 1!


  • Janice July 20, 2011, 6:02 pm

    Learning two different takes on Bo Ssam would rock! I’ve had a look at the Momofuku recipe, but learning both styles (traditional & David Chang) from a true Korean source would be sensational, and possibly result in a dinner party double hit!

  • Nic July 21, 2011, 9:18 pm

    How funny, I was just having a conversation with a friend on Monday, that I’d never eaten Korean food, and had no idea what it is like, let alone cooked it! I’m always up for trying something new, and having looked at the recipes on offer, I would like to try the Sam Gae Tang. I’m a pom, and LOVE chestnuts, but haven’t managed to eat/cook any this season, so what better way to get y fix than trying something new?!

  • fluffy July 21, 2011, 9:54 pm

    I would like to learn to make bul dak (fire chicken) at home. My boyfriend and I both love spicy food and would always order that in ANY Korean restaurants. In fact, we even had a quest to find the best bul dak in Sydney. I tried recreating the dish at home but it just wasn’t the same. My bf is going away for work to the land with no Korean food in sight for the next couple of years. I would love to be able to cook bul dak at his place when I go visit him :)

  • Julie July 22, 2011, 10:57 am

    Love to learn the bo Ssam! I have a intense weakness for anything David Chang inspired and he inspires me that traditional cooking is well valued, but new twists could be even better. What better to learn two different methods?

    I look forward to making this one day and it has been bookmarked in my cookbook since I purchased the momofuku cookbook. I’m a bit daunted and worried about making a mistakes with bo Saam which is why I haven’t cooked this yet, would love to hear the tips and tricks!

  • Vivian - vxdollface July 22, 2011, 12:40 pm

    zomg I have no idea why I haven’t seen this post until now, good thing I didn’t miss out on this :) Ive walked past the KCO a couple times this year thinking it was a Korean art gallery and I always slow my pace down as I walk past the glass windows.. but never have the guts to go in! lol reminds of the Kdrama I just finished watching, Lie to me 내게 거짓말을 해봐, where they promote the beauty of Jeju Island as the Wonders of the World!
    Anyway, the dish I would love to make most is Kimchee!! I always pester my Korean friends into teaching me since it looks like such a wonderful family/friends/group activity when I watch Kdramas! But they never want to because they say it’s too much effort when you can just buy it at Korean grocers :( Kimchee is an essential dish for the majority of Koreans as other dishes are based loosely around it like in different types of jiigae/hotpot soups. Lets not lose the tradition & make some Kimchee! :D

  • Su-Cake Lee July 23, 2011, 5:55 am

    How cool…I’ll look into some Korean cooking classes looks awesome fun…heya your food blog is most informative with activities for me to learn ~ very cool!! :D

    • Simon July 23, 2011, 6:00 am

      Glad you feel that way :)

      I found it to be rather fun & Heather is a great teacher. Hope you have fun doing them and if you intend to do two or more, save some money & pay for membership beforehand.

  • Simon July 23, 2011, 6:02 am

    Thanks for your entries. Keep an eye on the blog for the announcement of the winners soon.

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